Who doesn't like staying in a fancy hotel? Everyone loves a bit of luxury, but when you're travelling far and often sometimes your choices have to be a little more down to earth.
Hostels are a great way to meet new people, but still there’s no guarantee that you’re going to meet great people. You could end up finding your new best friends, or get stuck with five of the most boring (or smelly) individuals on earth. The idea of sharing a bedroom with randoms seems crazy until you’ve actually tried it, but as long as you’re a person who can easily fall asleep anywhere when you’re tired (me!), you’ll be just fine.
Some hostels have single rooms which are still a lot cheaper than a hotel. It’s a nice little luxury to have your own private space, as long as the walls aren’t too thin. In the space of one week I spent nights listening to a man trying to repair his marriage over the phone, a couple planning a six month cycling tour and someone who sounded like he was running a late night cookery class via Skype.
For something a bit different, keep an eye out for a capsule hotel. These futuristic sleeping pods are not for the claustrophobic, but you get more privacy than at a hostel plus a choice of lighting colours and your own climate controls.
Honestly, I’m not a fan of camping. Why do you want to go on holiday and sleep in a tent? It’s cold. Until suddenly it’s hot and you wake up gasping for air, desperately trying to escape through layers of zips and nylon flaps. I once came scarily close to padlocking myself into a tent, but that’s a story for another day.
For a different point of view, I had a chat with my best friend Sandy, who thoroughly enjoys camping.
Over to Sandy now for her top reasons why she loves going camping:
1) You can get accommodation with a 5 star view for a 1 star price.
2) You go to the sleep to the sounds of nature, especially when you camp near the beach and you can hear the sounds of the ocean.
3) You can get creative with your cooking and see how many things you can make with only a campfire and a limited amount of cooking utensils.
4) For city people like me it's a great chance to actually see the stars properly, without any light pollution.
5) Most of the time you have no phone reception when camping. When you can't use your phone you are forced to make conversation with your friends and find activities to entertain yourself. You end up doing things like playing card games that you wouldn't usually think of doing at home.
6) You get to go to bed early which is one of my favourite things to do! (Editor note: Honestly, she’s not that boring, she just really enjoys sleep and I can totally relate to that!)
7) Camping is a perfect chance to really get away from the world and enjoy being alone with friends or with someone special. Or nearly always….
One time I went camping with a boyfriend at a deserted little spot up the coast. After parking the car found we had to walk about 1km to the campsite with all our stuff. We had to do several trips back and forth to the car. We’d just got everything sorted out, I’d set up my awesome reclining camping chair in a perfect spot and got an ice cold cider out of the esky.
Suddenly there was a rustle in the bushes and a sweaty man appeared, exhausted from a strenuous day of hiking. I assumed this random man would just say a polite hello and then continue on his way, but by complete unfortunate coincidence it turned out that he was some old acquaintance of my boyfriend. Next thing I know I’m kindly offering my awesome chair to this man and so I’m sitting on the ground while he’s getting comfy in my chair, drinking my cider and enjoying my hard earned ocean view!
You know, this is controversial but I’m still not sold on AirBnB. I’ve learnt that I value anonymity when I’m travelling. I just don’t feel comfortable in someone else’s house where they’ve made such an effort for everything to be perfect.
What happens if I accidentally break a plate? Or I have some kind of shower curtain related incident that ends in water dripping out of a downstairs light socket? I’m not even catastrophising, this actually happened to me. I have a track record of freak mechanical incidents in other people’s bathrooms.
Also sometimes I’m just a disgusting human. Like that time I went to Ibiza with newly dyed red hair and a spray tan. My hotel sheets and towels definitely knew all about it.
You can get away with stuff in hotels. AirBnB is personal. It’s someone’s house, they’ll personally be cleaning the room and they’re going to write a review of your guest behaviour. They’ll never forget your name.
Image: 123rf.com 98705707 Vadim Georgiev
Whether you're travelling with a suitcase, backpack, Hogwarts trunk or wicker panniers on the back of a donkey, packing for a trip always leads to some eternal dilemmas.
Will you be able to carry it?
I always over pack, especially for long distance trips. I've recently been travelling with, to quote the manager of a hostel in Adelaide, a suitcase the size of a small apartment. I made a similar mistake when I first arrived in Australia, bringing with me a backpack which I couldn't even carry on my back.
The other extreme is a Polish bloke I met on an Uluru tour. He had one small bag, smaller than my average work day handbag, for six months of travel. He explained that he had simply had two pairs of shorts, two t-shirts, two pairs of socks and two pairs of undies. One set to wear and one to wash. In a hot climate, he said, that’s all you need.
Do you really need it?
My theory is that I just never know what might be waiting for me on my journey. I might need dresses and shoes for fancy dinners. I could be overcome with a sudden urge to work out three times a day, for which I’ll need a range of active wear and a specific pair of trainers. What about when I need to rustle up a suit for my dream job interview? In Darwin?
I’m also guilty of packing clothes that I absolutely love but will probably never wear. My same few black t-shirts will be on constant rotation while that beautiful pale blue sundress will never get worn because I’m too scared of spilling my dinner down it.
Can you actually find anything in there?
When your bag is too full it will basically vomit its contents out across the room as soon as you try to find anything. How I ever lived without packing cubes I really can’t tell you. Those black mesh zip up bags in assorted sizes have revolutionised my life.
I’d always been taught that it's a great space saving idea to tuck small items into shoes inside your suitcase. But this always lead to the question of which pair of shoes did I actually put my extra-warm socks in?
During a winter trip overseas I took a pair of knee high boots to be reheeled, only for the shoe mender to point out that my entire sock collection was still stuffed inside. He and I can both be grateful that I'd packed my undies in my other pair of boots.
A few months ago I moved to Perth from Sydney. Most of my friends in Sydney think I've lost the plot. They're forever coming up with questions like "Isn't Perth just a small country town?", "Is there anywhere to go out?", and "Do they have Uber over there?".
Yes we do have Uber, but that's not even important compared to all these beautiful reasons to visit Perth and the West Coast of Australia.
1) Meet a quokka at Rottnest Island
Just off the coast of Perth, Rottnest Island is home to the cutest marsupial on earth, the quokka. These little guys were made to be social media stars, so if you want to snap a quokka selfie you'll have to come to Perth.
2) Relax at Cottesloe Beach
Characterised by its shady Norfolk Pine trees and chilled out vibes, Cottesloe is Perth's iconic beach destination. Cottesloe also levels up against east coast rival Bondi by having its own edition of Sculpture by the Sea every summer.
3) Be amazed at the Pinnacles Desert
It doesn't take long for the west to get wild. Drive just 2hrs 15mins north of Perth city centre and you'll find the Pinnacles Desert. No one really knows how the Pinnacles came to be here, set in bright yellow sand, while all surrounding areas are either white sand or red dust. The more you look at these curious limestone structures the more you see, with animal shapes, faces and more seeming to reveal themselves on the surface of the rocks.
4) Taste all of the wine at Margaret River
When it comes to wine, the Margaret River region is renowned for some of Australia's favourite drops. The area is also packed full of popular surf beaches like Injidup, Yallingup and Three Bears, and it's only 3hrs drive south of Perth.
5) Catch a game at Optus Stadium
Recently voted the most beautiful sports facility in the world at the Prix Versailles 2019 international architecture awards, Perth's 60,000 seat Optus Stadium is a whole new experience for sports fans.
6) Dance the night away in Northbridge
On a Friday and Saturday night, Perth's main party district has a huge choice of venues and streets packed full of party goers all the way through the night. There's also a big underground party scene in Perth, and without the lockout laws that have been imposed in some Australian cities a night out really can mean a whole night. Start your night with a beer and a pizza at the Northbridge Brewing Co.
7) Frolic among the flowers at Kings Park
Kings Park is Perth's largest inner city open space, with a multitude of gardens to explore and breathtaking views across the river to the CBD, South Perth and beyond.
8) Sip a fancy coffee in Fremantle
An entire destination city in itself, Fremantle's markets, cappuccino strip cafes and harbourside restaurants attract locals and tourists on every sunny day. Visit Fremantle Prison for a history lesson with the chance of a supernatural presence.
9) Catch some waves at Scarborough Beach
Scarborough's pristine white sand and excellent surf breaks are a big draw for beach lovers from all around the city. Spend your evenings drinking at the many bars along the beachfront, checking out the view from the perfectly located Sunset Hill or shopping at the Sunset Markets.
10) Swim, snorkel and dive in paradise at Ningaloo Reef
Australia's most beautiful marine life is right here on the West Coast. Walk just a few steps into the ocean from the virtually untouched beaches to swim amongst stunning corals, brightly coloured tropical fish, turtles and whale sharks.
Image: 123rf.com/macrovector 43210288
I know reading isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. I find that hard to understand, but it’s true that even some of you reading this post have never known the pleasure of spending a whole day just getting lost in a good book.
Despite this, whenever I talk with non-bookish people about anything to do with reading or writing, we quickly find ourselves on common ground. Friends who have never read a book just for fun will start talking about one series, one author and one boy wizard who changed everything.
Not only did Harry Potter engage an entire generation of young readers, the series also sparked the phenomenon of adults reading books that were meant to be for children and young adults.
Harry Potter and friends got another year older in each book. As readers (or movie watchers) we engaged with the story of these young characters who were smart, brave and had everything to fight for.
I hope it’s not too much of a big jump from the wizarding world to the books that I’m going to write about today, all of which are set in the real world.
Adult fiction, especially when set in the real world, often comes from a place where the narrator has resigned themselves to the fucked up way in which their world works. By contrast, Young Adult (YA) fiction focuses on characters who are experiencing their world for the first time. Characters feel new emotions, ask questions, and are not afraid to challenge the way things are.
I’m often no longer interested in reading about gritty adult lives, scarred emotions, deaths, divorces and abandoned dreams. I want to read stories that have a sense of hope.
Emergency Contact – Mary H.K. Choi
Is it OK that I relate so much to Penny, the lead character in Emergency Contact? She’s an aspiring writer, perpetually feels like an outsider, and she wears a lot of black.
Penny is just starting college. Although her roommate Jude is nice they really have nothing in common and it certainly doesn’t help that Jude already has a rich and glamourous best friend in town.
Sam works in the coffee shop round the corner. He’s only a few years older than Penny and Jude, but he’s kind of Jude’s uncle. And his kind of girlfriend is kind of pregnant. Can things possibly get any more awkward?
Sam and Penny’s story is a friendship built over text message. In fact, Penny and Sam were really only ever meant to message each other in an emergency, but sometimes life can be a little bit nicer when you just have someone to chat to. Someone who just gets you, and accepts you, and maybe even also wears a lot of black.
Emergency Contact is packed full of those little moments, tiny observations, thoughts and feelings which we don’t always share but when we do, we realise that someone else was feeling just the same way too.
The Hate U Give and On The Come Up – Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is the story of 16 year old Starr, who witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Starr desperately wants the world to know that Khalil was an unarmed, innocent victim, while antagonists on both sides of the law want her to keep quiet.
Set in the same neighbourhood, On The Come Up introduces us to aspiring rapper Bri, who soon has all eyes on her after stepping into the ring at a local freestyle rap battle. When her music starts going viral for all the wrong reasons, she finds herself in trouble both at school and on the streets.
Angie Thomas gives no sugar coating to the world in which her characters live. Garden Heights is a tough place to grow up. Gangs run the streets, drug addiction is common and many families live below the poverty line.
Yet Thomas doesn’t describe Garden Heights in a way that is intended to shock. Neither does she draw us in with any attempt to glamorise the underworld. We see Garden Heights through the eyes of teenage protagonists who know that life can be harsh, but who also have strong role models showing them that there is another way. Thomas’s characters show us that people are not one dimensional. We meet a loving father, running his own business and choosing the best school for his children. It’s hard to believe that he’s a former gang member who spent his daughter’s early childhood in jail.
In their respective stories, Starr and Bri are not only fighting battles of opinions. Both have moments where they are in physical danger and have to stand up to gang members. Their courage and determination to be the change in their communities make them inspirations to readers of all ages.
Last but not least, Starr and Bri are both Harry Potter fans.
This Beats Perfect, A Secret Beat and The Punk Factor – Rebecca Denton
This Beats Perfect, A Secret Beat and The Punk Factor are all set in the London music industry. While each story has completely different protagonists all three books exist in the same universe, with some familiar characters making appearances as each story unfolds.
This Beats Perfect hooked me in with a female lead, Amelie, who may one day become a star, but will never let herself be starstruck. As she battles with her own nerves about performing on stage, she starts getting to know a member of the world’s current favourite boyband, The Keep.
A Secret Beat follows two music industry interns, Alexia and Greta. Both girls are passionately chasing their dreams but they’ve each got a secret that could end their careers all too soon. When The Keep arrive in town their lives really start to heat up.
It’s fascinating to see how those who grew up around the music industry are so unfazed by everything that goes on backstage and hardly raise an eyebrow when they meet someone famous. Amelie and Alexia both have family connections in the business while Greta is a complete outsider. In fact, Greta is a fangirl and she knows it. But is that the only role she’s destined to play?
From disappointing sex through to domestic abuse, The Punk Factor is significantly grittier than its predecessors, as the series matures along with its audience. Frankie, with her friends Haruna and Aimee, wants to be in a band, but she has a few things to learn first. Like how to play the guitar. Meanwhile, Haruna is having a tough time even getting out of the house. That’s not even where her bad luck ends. Even as an adult reader, I found that some events in Haruna’s story affected me quite deeply.
All three books are packed with music references to geek out to and the use of song titles as chapter names is the icing on the cake. Each story see the characters growing and changing as people, while taking steps forward with their careers. As a reader you can’t help wanting to know where their paths will lead them next.
The Streets - Live at Metro City [Perth WA, Tues 16/07/19]
Eight years or so ago, Mike Skinner decided to stop recording as The Streets. In that time he’s worked on projects around the music industry until arguably coming full circle as his unique brand of cheeky storytelling returns to the fore. His latest releases once again bear The Streets name.
It’s no surprise that a fair percentage of tonight’s crowd are Brits, most going easier on the bevvies than they would have done had this gig fallen on a weekend. It’s a Tuesday night in the middle of winter, and we’ve all got proper jobs these days. Fans explore Metro City’s vertical maze of mezzanines, seeking out the best vantage points for the night while opening act Slim Set get down to business representing their own home streets of Western Sydney.
There’s about time for one more drink before the marching beat of ‘Turn The Page’ drops and suddenly there he is, Mike Skinner, strolling across the stage with a pint of lager in hand, much as any bloke you kind of recognise might wander over to you in the pub. You're not quite sure if he's getting ready to show you a card trick or if this strangely captivating tale he’s telling is actually his roundabout way of asking if he could please have one of your smokes.
Tracks from every era of The Streets flow seamlessly together with no need for introduction. Instead Skinner's banter between tracks follows the same few recurring themes: his intention to crowdsurf (“I’ve got to do this with no run up”), an enquiry as to whether a lady in the crowd is wearing jeans (so that she can crowdsurf) and his two cents on the time honoured Aussie debate of Holden vs Ford. Would you rather have a sparkly new Holden, he asks, or a reliable fifteen year old Ford that you know is just going to go fast?
Incidentally, it's been fifteen years since ‘Dry Your Eyes’ took The Streets to No.1 in the UK charts. ‘Has It Come To This’, The Streets debut single, won fans who could break out a knowing grin at the mention of a “few herbs and a bit of Benson”, but millions more would listen to ‘Dry Your Eyes’, a song with not one single reference to drink or drugs, and understand that raw pain of the moment when love walks away. But I digress. I don't think that was the metaphor in tonight's story.
Skinner's unassuming presence is contrasted by the energy of collaborators Kevin Mark Trail, who takes on either joint lead or backing vocals on most numbers, and Robert Harvey when he sets his guitar aside and grabs the mic. Four bottles of champagne sit next to a speaker, ready to be opened at random points throughout the show and poured into the empty glasses of front row punters.
That bubbly is the only hint at bling in a show which is deliberately free from distractions, letting the music, or to be more precise the lyrics, be the focus of our attention. A theme of black clothes and no labels has been running through Skinner’s social media for a while now. He even points out that there is no logo on the drum kit, but it’s not entirely clear whether that was by coincidence or design.
We started the evening with a pint and a chat. By the time we go home we’ve been on a journey, each tune a little adventure weaving effortlessly into the next. We leave still pondering the question. Do you want that sparkly Holden, or the reliable fifteen year old Ford?
The Ultimate Meatball Sub. Yes, that's the one with cheesy garlic bread.
(Vegetarians and carbs avoiders, look away now.)
Something caught my eye as I dashed along a city street on Friday evening. Was it a sparkly dress in the window of a boutique? A pair of designer shoes, or a newly opened restaurant? Nope, it was a cheesy garlic bread sandwich on a Subway poster.
Subway has introduced The Ultimate range to its branches in Australia. A choice of subs built on cheesy garlic bread, or you can choose to have the cheesy garlic bread as an upgrade option on any sandwich. Only available for a limited time!
I went for The Ultimate Meatball Sub. I nearly ordered two, one to devour immediately and the other to take selfies with, but I forced myself to calm down. This isn’t a photogenic meal. These beasts get sloppy real quickly.
Actually I should have taken in progress shots as the sandwich artist was working his magic. Garlic butter slathered all along both sides of the sub, triple cheese, lashings of mozzarella and then into the toasting oven to melt it all down.
I did get thrown off guard by still having the usual choices of bread as a base (I get really panicked by unexpected questions when I’m ordering a sandwich). I picked the standard white bread, although I reckon this sub would work really well with one of the brown bread varieties too. Did I have salad? Yes, just tomato, green capsicum and spinach leaves.
So what’s my verdict on this extravaganza of a sandwich? Well, The Ultimate Meatball Sub is exactly what you need when you’re craving something cheesy, garlicy, meaty and a little bit greasy. It’s like instead of going somewhere for a whole pizza plus garlic bread, you can go to Subway where all your needs will be met in just one sandwich. I can’t imagine it surviving a home delivery trip, so make this a treat for when you’re actually passing by to pick it up.
Was I highly satisfied at the end of my meal? Yes, definitely, yes.
Could you make something like it at home? Of course you could, but then you’d end up eating six of them in a week, and that might be a problem.
Image 123rf.com Image Ref: 45687470
OK, just before we start, that's not me in the picture above. I don't spend my life sitting serenely in windows, reading books and watching butterflies. I read either at the dinner table, where my book is at constant risk of tomato sauce splatter, or else in bed with a book on the pillow next to me, half a centimetre from my face because I'm ridiculously shortsighted.
In this post, I'm sharing some of the books I've enjoyed reading over the last year or so. All are fiction, set in the real world, with female lead characters.
If you're keen to read any of these books, the Amazon links are right underneath the book images. Clever, huh?
Bloody Women, The Devil’s Staircase, and Viral - Helen Fitzgerald
I first picked up Viral soon after a trip to the very same holiday destination where major events in the story take place, making the setting all too horridly vivid in my mind. With a plot that moves at breakneck speed, laced with humour as dark and dirty as a Magaluf nightclub, Viral had me hooked and I went straight on to find more books by the same author.
Whether it be to confront a crisis or to escape one, Helen Fitzgerald’s characters love to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice. It’s telling then to find out that the author grew up in Australia, lives in Scotland and also spends a lot of time in Italy. The world feels like a much smaller place once you’ve been to the other side of it, and I think the idea of characters running around the world on a whim would really only spring into the mind of someone who has at some time packed up their life and moved to another country.
In Bloody Women, The Devil’s Staircase, and Viral, not only are the lead characters frequently on the move but their stories are multifaceted, going beyond traditional crime fiction narratives to layer in past experiences and family influences which become integral to present day events.
Bloody Women delves into what should be the unremarkable relationship history of Catriona, who is about to get married and shouldn’t really be thinking about her ex-boyfriends too much. Except the ex-boyfriends all start turning up dead. Catriona is arrested for murder, but that’s only one of her problems.
The Devil’s Staircase paints possibly the bleakest imaginable picture of backpacker life in London, but for 18 year old Bronny it’s more than enough. Bronny’s just running away from the fate she believes is waiting for her back home, preferring instead to shape her own destiny.
Su Oliphant-Brotheridge in Viral is a much less enthusiastic participant in her own overseas misadventures, when what should have been just another night partying in Magaluf ends with Su desperately trying to run away from herself while life as she knows it comes crashing down around her ears.
All three books are packed with characters who are larger than life, yet absolutely believable and full of surprises.
Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones was a child of material privilege, although it was her parent’s distant relationship with their child that led her to wander down Sunset Strip in her early teens and get herself into the groupie scene. Daisy partied because she had nothing much else to do, became a personality with her photo in the social pages, and eventually became a rock star with records at the top of the charts.
Daisy Jones & The Six dives into what it was really like to be a rock star in the seventies. Instead of looking up at the stage, we’re sitting in the green room and the studio, watching the band from inside their own world. Every band has its front person, its star, but this band had two, Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne.
Despite getting equal airtime as a lead singer, even Billy becomes a supporting cast member in a story that is, ultimately, all about Daisy. Predictably, Daisy fails to find lasting happiness in a life that can sometimes seem like it was devoted to hedonism, with a music career thrown in along the way for good measure.
Daisy Jones & The Six is written as a series of interviews with the band, their friends, families and associates, in a style so authentic that it led readers (myself included) to Google the question “Is Daisy Jones a real person?”. The book even includes complete lyrics for the band’s album ‘Aurora’. Millions of people loved the Daisy Jones they saw on stage and in magazines. Did anyone love her in real life?
How To Be Famous - Caitlin Moran
How To Be Famous is the sequel to the hugely successful How To Build A Girl, in which teenage writer Johanna Morrigan reinvented herself as music journalist Dolly Wilde and set off to London, where the streets may not be paved with gold but are most certainly lined with adventures.
In this second instalment, Dolly meets feisty singer Suzanne Banks and together they set out to take down a man who has sleazed his way around London one too many times. In the meantime, Suzanne’s band The Branks rip the music scene a new one with their debut album while Johanna endearingly attempts to write her way into the heart of her unrequited love.
How To Be Famous is a Britpop nostalgia trip, and one clear advantage of the mid-nineties setting is that the narrative need not be hampered by modern technology. Johanna’s career in print media isn’t under threat from online competitors, blog is a curse word yet to be uttered (and I’m fully aware of the irony as I write this in my blog post) and she can’t use her crush’s Instagram feed to track his every move around the globe.
Johanna marches into every exploit with her eyes wide open, yet still grows as a person through her friendship with Suzanne and her encounters with the two leading men of the story, one an archetypal abuser of power and the other a true gentleman disguised in wastrel clothing. I admire Johanna for the decisions she makes, especially her determination to maintain her independence and sense of equality in a relationship where she could easily let these hard won boundaries slide.
For those who aren't quite sure, backpacker hostels in Australia offer budget accommodation, mostly in shared rooms with bunk beds. You might stay for one or two nights, or a whole lot longer.
Some hostels are full of quiet, sensible people, while others are known to be hectic party hostels. The best hostels sit somewhere right in the middle of that scale.
Read on for 10 things that you'll only understand if you've experienced hostel life for yourself... for everyone else there might be some surprises!
1) Sharing a bedroom with strangers
Yes, it’s strange to start with, but everyone is in the same situation. Privacy is virtually non-existent, so everyone respects each others space. Keeping your valuables in a locker is always a good idea, as is wearing some kind of clothing to sleep in, but remember that 99.999% of roommates you’ll encounter are no more a thief or a creep than you are.
2) The unshakeable belief that Fruity Lexia makes you sexier
In fact so does any wine that comes in a 4 litre box, but only, and I repeat only, when consumed within the walls of a backpacker hostel. Being seen drinking goon at parties in the real world will absolutely never, ever get you laid.
3) Getting the bottom bunk
How awesome does it feel when you check into a hostel and find that you’ve scored a bottom bunk with a power point next to it! Top bunks can sometimes feel a bit more private, but going up and down that ladder in the dark soon becomes an absolute pain.
4) Creating an entire meal from stuff left in the free food
It’s true that backpackers never, ever turn down a free feed. But aside from that, the concept of a free food shelf in the hostel kitchen is a little way of paying it forward to each other and reducing food waste. Need some rice or pasta to go with your dinner? Check the free food. Flying home today and don’t want to take your teabags and a jar of Vegemite with you? Leave them on the free food shelf.
5) Writing your name on your food bag
All your food lives in two reusable shopping bags, one on the kitchen shelf and one in the fridge. The chances are your food won’t get nicked, but if your bag’s not clearly labelled with your name, room number and departure date it will be thrown out by staff on fridge cleaning day, or end up on the free food shelf.
6) People having sex in dorms
While all the other beds are occupied. Yes, people do this. Even on top bunks. Most top bunks can handle it, but you won’t know for sure until you’ve tried. As a general rule, the noisier a couple are the less likely it is that they’ve ever met each other before. Think this is absolutely disgusting behaviour and you’d never do it a dorm in a million years? Try spending a year living in hostels and then we’ll talk again.
7) Needing about $10 in coins every week to do your laundry
Even if you do manage to wash your whites separately, girls can be assured that all white bras will end up grey after about six months on the road.
8) Knowing there's never a perfect time to get up
If you get up too early you’ll have to be quiet as a mouse because other people in your room are still sleeping. Same time as everyone else and there'll be a queue for the showers. Sleep in too late and before you’ve even got out of bed to brush your teeth the hostel staff will come waltzing in to change the linen on the empty bunk above you, do the hoovering, and maybe even stop to chat.
9) Going on long distance road trips with a bunch of people you’ve only just met
Back home you wouldn’t dream of having a good laugh with some random strangers at the pub then going on holiday with them a week later. But in the backpacker world, that’s exactly what you do. You might even go all in and buy a car together.
10) Friends disappearing from your life as suddenly as they showed up
You went up the coast sharing tents, beers and maybe even boyfriends, but that’s no guarantee you’ll even see their face on Instagram again once you’ve parted ways. But don’t despair just yet. There’s a really high chance you will form friendships that last a lifetime, you just won’t always know which ones they are until you’re somewhere further down the track.
Image: 123rf.com Image Ref: 50437580
(21 March – 19 April)
You’re ruthless, attention seeking and will trample over others to get ahead in the game. Oozing confidence, you strut around through life with the unshakeable belief that you are better than everyone else.
You will win… The Bachelor / Bachelorette
(20 April – 20 May)
You enjoy the finer things in life and you’re prepared to work hard to get them. You like to have everything your own way. If someone doesn’t appreciate your particular choice of music, food or wine, you’ll be judging them. Harshly.
You will win… My Kitchen Rules
(21 May – 20 June)
You can talk. In fact, you can work a room like no one else. Networking comes naturally to you. Combine that with your twin personalities and you can effortlessly show a different side to yourself depending on who’s around. Who cares if you can’t form genuine, long term connections?
You will win… The Apprentice
(21 June – 22 July)
You love cake, but you also love your partner / mum / kids / dog and want to prove that you’re not actually useless. Your little country town will get valuable tourism investment when you bring a TV crew home with you. Just don’t let them put the local bakery out of business.
You will win… The Biggest Loser
(23 July - 22 August)
Always the attention seeker, you’re a natural performer who can sometimes go overboard when putting on a show. You’re confident and ready to take on the world, but you’ll be kind to people along the way. As if that ever got anyone far in life.
You will win… The X-Factor
(23 August – 22 September)
When you like someone you will go out of your way to be kind and caring. You can be picky and critical but you’re equally harsh on yourself, especially when it comes to your appearance. All that time you spend fussing in front of the mirror pays dividends.
You will win… Love Island
(23 September – 22 October)
You’re a charming little social butterfly, showing off just enough to make people notice you, before morphing into whatever character you think they might like you to be. Your co-dependent relationship with your singing coach means you’re now destined to have five beautiful minutes at the top of the iTunes chart.
You will win… The Voice
(23 October – 21 November)
You love mysteries and are on a constant quest for truth. You’re persistent AF, which makes you hard to get rid of once you’ve got your mind set on something. In relationships, are you really as in love as you seem, or do you just refuse to give up?
By still being with your partner ten years later, you will win… Married At First Sight
(22 November – 21 December)
You’re all about kicking goals, no matter how ludicrous your goals might seem to others. You’re a daredevil who can’t sit still. There’s mountains to climb, marathons to run and endurance world records to be beaten. Your dream is to represent your country when extreme ironing becomes a recognised Olympic sport.
You will win… The Amazing Race
(22 Dec – 19 Jan)
It’s hard to see someone as serious as you ever finding a place on reality TV. You’re disciplined, hard-working and bordering on authoritarian. You’ve got a creative side but you don’t have time for anything frivolous. If you get the chance to be a bossy-boots then you’ll truly be in your element.
You will win… The Block
(20 January – 18 February)
You enjoy growing hair. Everywhere. Smells don’t bother you and neither do bugs. Charming, eccentric and caring, you’re the quintessential hippy, fighting for what’s right.
You will win… Survivor
(19 February – 20 March)
You’re the ultimate daydreamer. In fact, you mostly live in your dream world because it’s nicer than the real world. Despite all your hard work, will you ever make it? Does anyone actually care about your dreams?
You will win… So You Think You Can Dance
Image: Poidabro [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Australia eh? It's all sunny and full of animals that can kill you. Spiders too, spiders that can kill you. Well, yes that's all true, but here's some lesser known facts to prepare you for normal life in an Australian city.
1) It gets cold in Australia
Seriously. We have cold winter days here, especially in June and July. Aussies wear coats in winter, just like everyone else. What we don’t have here is central heating, so we just sit at home with no heating whatsoever and huddle up under layers of blankets while we’re watching TV. Some areas of Australia even get snow, enough that there’s a whole region of ski resorts around the Snowy Mountains, just south of Canberra.
2) No-one actually drinks Fosters
All those adverts on TV back home, where blokes in the outback are sitting around swigging cans of Fosters and hanging out with their pet kangaroos? Sorry mate, all just one big marketing con. Australians love a cold beer, but it’ll be a Coopers, James Boag’s, Little Creatures, or any of the legions of other local beers that taste so much better than Fosters.
3) Australia doesn’t have any copper coins
In fact, 1c and 2c coins were withdrawn from circulation back in 1992. It took me weeks to realise this because when I first arrived in Australia there was a copper coin rattling around in my purse, a copper coin which I just assumed was a 1c coin. Nope, it was just a penny that was suddenly a long, long way from home. Pricing in shops is often still down to the cent, but the total value of cash payments is automatically rounded up or down to the nearest 5c.
4) You can’t buy fireworks in Australia
Anywhere. Except for one day a year in the Northern Territory. Only licensed pyrotechnics professionals are allowed to buy and use fireworks. What this does mean is that every big public event, sporting occasion or even just most Saturday evenings in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, will end with a firework display. New Zealand celebrates Bonfire Night on 5th November, but Australia doesn’t.
6) You can’t buy booze in the supermarket
But there is a supermarket devoted to booze. It’s called Dan Murphy’s.
7) Australian English isn’t always very British
In fact, it’s more American at times. Over here we watch movies not films, wear pants not trousers and if you’re in the market for a new home you’ll need to see a real estate agent. Why are they so ‘real’? And another thing I’m pretty sure we’ve inherited from the US - the ad breaks on TV are in all the wrong places. You can’t make a cuppa between one programme (I mean, show) and the next because there’s no break in between!
8) Australian’s love to watch 'the footie’
You’re absolutely right in thinking ‘footie’ must be short for football, but in New South Wales, ‘footie’ means NRL (National Rugby League). In Victoria and Western Australia, ‘footie’ means AFL (Australian Football League), which is the game that you might have heard of as ‘Aussie rules footballs’. Both leagues kick off in March, with grand finals around the end of September. A couple of weeks later the A-League starts, and that’s the football league. Except most people insist on calling it soccer.
9) There’s a huge subculture known as ‘bush doof’ parties
Dance music took a long while to gain popularity in Australia and any music with a repetitive electronic beat was derided as ‘all that doof doof music’. Party people were being judged in the cities so they took the party out to the bush. That means ‘the countryside’, by the way. Nothing to do with pubic hair. ‘Doofing’ is not just about music but also incorporates experimental arts, health and wellbeing, with an ethos of everyone being kind to each other and to the environment.
10) ‘Thongs’ are not a type of underwear
Thongs are flip-flops and they’re not just for the beach. Thongs are standard day-to-day footwear and it’s only really necessary to swap them for something more substantial when you’re in the office or at a wedding. Wearing thongs to the shops, out to lunch, or to any casual social occasion is just plain normal.
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
All text content © Nicola Ranger 2013-2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.
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